What is a computer virus?
A computer virus is a small software program that spreads from one computer to another computer and that interferes with computer operation. A computer virus may corrupt or delete data on a computer, use an e-mail program to spread the virus to other computers, or even delete everything on the hard disk.
Computer viruses are most easily spread by attachments in e-mail messages or by instant messaging messages. Therefore, you must never open an e-mail attachment unless you know who sent the message or unless you are expecting the e-mail attachment. Computer viruses can be disguised as attachments of funny images, greeting cards, or audio and video files. Computer viruses also spread by using downloads on the Internet. Computer viruses can be hidden in pirated software or in other files or programs that you may download.
Symptoms of a computer virus
If you suspect or confirm that your computer is infected with a computer virus, obtain the current antivirus software. The following are some primary indicators that a computer may be infected:
* The computer runs slower than usual.
* The computer stops responding, or it locks up frequently.
* The computer crashes, and then it restarts every few minutes.
* The computer restarts on its own. Additionally, the computer does not run as usual.
* Applications on the computer do not work correctly.
* Disks or disk drives are inaccessible.
* You cannot print items correctly.
* You see unusual error messages.
* You see distorted menus and dialog boxes.
* There is a double extension on an attachment that you recently opened, such as a .jpg, .vbs, .gif, or .exe. extension.
* An antivirus program is disabled for no reason. Additionally, the antivirus program cannot be restarted.
* An antivirus program cannot be installed on the computer, or the antivirus program will not run.
* New icons appear on the desktop that you did not put there, or the icons are not associated with any recently installed programs.
* Strange sounds or music plays from the speakers unexpectedly.
* A program disappears from the computer even though you did not intentionally remove the program.
Note These are common signs of infection. However, these signs may also be caused by hardware or software problems that have nothing to do with a computer virus. Unless you run the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool, and then you install industry-standard, up-to-date antivirus software on your computer, you cannot be certain whether a computer is infected with a computer virus or not.
How to protect your computer against viruses
To protect your computer against viruses, follow these steps:
1. On the computer, turn on the firewall.
2. Keep the computer operating system up-to-date.
3. Use updated antivirus software on the computer.
4. Use updated antispyware software on the computer.
For more information about how to protect a computer against viruses, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
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